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To Be Commissioner or Not To Be Commissioner? That Is The Question!


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I wouldn’t exactly call myself a seasoned commissioner by any means, but I’ve been around the block. While the rest of your league is on vacation mode or the OCD owners are already scouting and basically never stopped, you’re getting the league ready for the upcoming season.

Will I have enough owners? Do I have to find new owners?

Since most drafts are the last week in August, send out an email in May or June to get everyone’s verbal commitment to the upcoming season. I know it’s not a guarantee, but it may make you feel warm inside when you have 11 “I’m coming back!” responses. If you forgot, you’re the 12th owner.

If you don’t have everyone coming back, or someone is not being asked back, you need to start finding another owner. There are different types of owners, and commissioning a league is like herding cattle. Some cows are just standing around and waiting, taking care of business and being cool. You like these owners and want to find more of them. Others are on the far end of the farm and who knows what they are thinking, such as all field goals should be three points because he lost a game when the opposing team’s kicker made a 51-yarder for five points and lost by two points. You’re amused by these owners because they add some levity and it’s not bad to have one or two of these owners in your league. And other cows get tipped over and are whining that it’s not their fault they didn’t field a full team or that trade is not fair. You want to avoid these owners, and the ones you have either need to get on board or they have to go!

Don’t select a new owner blindly. If an owner recommends someone, interview them. Get a sense of who they are. I’ve made great choices in adding new owners and one bad one. The bad one had no experience, was more into basketball than football, and was extremely busy with work and mentioned his teenage son would help him out. Nice person, but didn’t field a full team many times even with some prodding by me. Luckily, I cleaned that up after one season.

Will the owners pay on time?

Collecting the funds for the league is one task that you will dread. It’s not cool being the tax collector, but the tax needs to be paid, and you have all the other owners depending on you. The prior commissioner had two owners, in two separate years, bail out a couple of weeks into the season and not pay. He started a friendly league and had no issues before with collecting. We’re not a serious money league, so it wasn’t a major issue, but it was not cool.

My first year as commissioner, I implemented a rule where the money needs to be paid two weeks prior to the draft. No money, no team and no draft. The two weeks prior is to give me some time to firm up a replacement if an owner didn’t pay. With this rule, I have received cash in hand and checks in the mail two weeks prior to the draft every year. This is normally the most challenging and dreaded task, but the hint a threat of being left out of our cool league so motivates people to pay on time. Strangely, this item has been the easiest to deal with for me.

Does the league want to make any changes to the rules?

Do you, or any of your owners, want to change the rules for the upcoming season? As commissioner, our league votes for rule changes and majority wins. With 12 owners, you need seven “yes” votes. This will make your life as commissioner easy. Everyone has a say, and if it turns out they don’t like the rule change, you can take another vote to change it back.

If you do want to make a change to the rules, such as changing from a snake draft to an auction draft, or adding an Individual Defensive Player slot, you need to get the word out in May or June. You want the change to be finalized at least a month prior to your draft, assuming your draft is in August, so your owners can be prepared for the draft.

For example, three years ago I floated the idea of going to an auction draft, rather than a snake draft. This was not a small undertaking, but from what I read about auction drafts, it would be well worth it. In order to get support quickly, I included several articles about auction drafts in the email so the owners don’t have to scour the internet looking for the information. Once I received some positive feedback, we put it to a league vote for a one-year trial period. It succeeded, and this upcoming season will be our third live auction draft. This article is not about auction drafts, but if you can do a live auction draft, do it. You’ll never go back to a snake draft.

When should we have the draft so everyone can be present?

I find this to be the most challenging because this is really the kickoff of your fantasy football season, and you want it to go well. It starts the excitement for the league and builds on that. This task is most dependent on how active you, as commissioner, want to be.

Whether it’s an online draft or a live draft, you want all the owners to participate and build a team they want. It’s preferable not to have an owner inherit a team.

If you’re a commissioner that wants things to go as smooth as possible, with little effort, do an online draft, auction or snake. Most of the work is done for you. All you have to do is notify your owners of the date, time and website link. If you select a website different from your league, then you have to enter in the draft results. Not a big deal.

Sometimes, an online draft is the only way because not all owners are co-located. If your owners are co-located, the live draft is the way to go. The merciless and abusive smack talk alone is worth having a live draft. You have the homer, who picks all New England players, including
BenJarvus Green-Ellis  for his No. 1 running back. You have the owner who is just happy having a horse in this race, picking a quarterback with the No. 2 pick in the first round and then selecting Pittsburgh’s defense/special teams in the fourth round. And you know he’s going to do this because he’s done this every year. Let me just state, the smack talk cannot be written here. We’re not a PG group but this is a PG article! Getting all the owners to someone’s house, with the wife’s permission, or to a sports bar, is worth the time and effort. Remember, this is the event for the league. What everyone has been preparing for and is excited about. Make the most of it.

To Be Commissioner or Not To Be Commissioner

Retaining and finding owners, and collecting funds, will not be the highlights of the position. The highlights of the position are leading rule changes, such as adding an Individual Defensive Player, and organizing the draft, especially if it’s a live draft. Once the season starts, I have not had many issues to deal with and the league normally runs itself. It’s usually, at least for me, getting ready for the upcoming season that requires some effort.

If you’re into fantasy football, and like to participate in all aspects of the league, then being commissioner will be easy for you. Go for it! I did and have not looked back.